Happy to Join, Proud to Contribute

by Paula Brien

As a long-time full-time staffer at Columbia, I am more than happy to join USofCC, our staff union, and pay my dues to help fund the union’s research, negotiations, advocacy, and communications.  My dues are a sound investment in my professional future at this institution I love and labor for every workday.

I have no illusion as to what would have been the response to a salary hike request if I had advocated individually, on my own behalf, without the support of our union. Over the past several years, I and my colleagues in the College Advising Center have relinquished many benefits as we, along with our managers, have had to tighten our belts to help the college’s bottom line. While my office is directed by fair, thoughtful, and creative managers — who work hard to give us the resources to do our jobs — I believe they weren’t in a position to pass a raise to me or my colleagues.

So, what I very likely could not have achieved on my own, my support of, and membership in, USofCC has achieved for me and my colleagues.  Because I’ve talked with the USofCC negotiators, I’ve heard the eye-witness account of how and when the raise/bonus offer was negotiated with management.

I’ll be voting as an informed, proud USofCC member on campus this week to accept the offer of a 1 percent raise over my base salary, plus a one-time 1 percent bonus. I’m glad the offer is retroactive to September 1.  And, because I’m not just out for myself, I’m delighted that the negotiated offer for part-time staff is based on an employee’s actual hours worked, rather than regularly assigned hours, and that the offer includes a minimum of $25 for bonuses going to our lowest-paid part-time staffers.

I encourage everyone to read the USofCC contract and to speak to the folks who were at the negotiating table. I’ve found them to be very approachable and responsive, and to be great listeners.  Make time to do your research, become a USofCC member if you’re not already, and vote on either Thursday or Friday to accept the wage offer.

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